WEB EXTRA: Cultivating Context

In a previous edition of this column, Trae Reed and I collaborated on a project in which we explored the theme of elevated perspectives, and discussed the annual short film competition promoted by the American Institute of Architects called “I Look Up.”

This year, we had the opportunity to tell the story of Lonoke’s current conversation by submitting an entry in the 2017 “I Look Up” Film Challenge.  I am personally learning more about the intersection of the field of architecture and community development, in light of our experience together over the last year.  Our film, entitled Cultivating Context hopes to tell that story.  You can read more of how this film project came to be at the SCM Architects website linked here.


The film was created from footage produced by Trae and his company, Provision UAS, and features narration by local leaders Evelyn Bryant of Central Arkansas Development Council, Chris Jemison, Lonoke High School Senior and FBLA Intern at Lonoke Area Chamber of Commerce and Henry Bryant, Jr., Carver High School Class of 1966.  SCM Architects Intern Michael Davis is also featured.  Their narration is transcribed below:


What gives a community the framework to evaluate future opportunities and discern the best ideas from the merely good, or mediocre ideas?  

In the year 2016, the people of Lonoke engaged in a transparent, respectful conversation that included citizen voices from all parts of town, and all backgrounds.

Through this conversation, the people of Lonoke began to discover the reality of the community’s context and geographic position.

In design, context is key.   Particularly in architecture and the built environment, the surrounding elements inform the decisions that a designer must make with regards to size, scale, and proportion.

All of the elements that compose the design have a relationship to one another as parts of a whole, and to the surrounding context.

Lonoke is a study in juxtaposition, as a built object in a field of agriculture and aquaculture production.

As a result of this inclusive discovery process, the people of Lonoke asked themselves, “What will we create with or within our unique context?”  

The process of discovery also uncovered a key reality: that an Architect’s role is not to be the expert with the answer.

“I believe an Architect can and should be an equipping leader.  But the key to engagement is the individual architect, who is willing to be an ambassador in and for the community they live in.”

Lonoke has taken a courageous step forward.  Whereas, once we were a community seeking a clear path ahead, we are now a town with a vision.

In the metaphor of building, Lonoke has just finished “making the bricks.”  What the community will build with those bricks will be revealed as the ongoing work is undertaken in the coming months.  

When Lonoke celebrates the 150th anniversary of its founding in 2022, a healthy, strong community will have begun to emerge.  

Those within and around will look up and look at Lonoke with fresh perspective.


I am personally grateful to Evelyn, Chris, and Henry for giving their time and effort to creating something uniquely grown here in Lonoke, which the world will soon hear more about.

I am also thankful to my leaders at SCM for supporting our work here in Lonoke.  We have only just begun the implementation process, but the Lonoke of 2022 will be the gratifying result of each of us leveraging our skill sets and roles to uplift our neighborhoods and our neighbors in pursuit of our common vision.  I’m very excited about that prospect!

Here’s the fun part – we get to vote for ourselves!  Through October 6, 2017, you may visit the link below to view the film and vote in the “People’s Choice” category (multiple votes are allowed, according to the rules of the competition).  Let’s vote for Lonoke and show how we are implementing our own Blueprint for Better!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s